Friday, January 12, 2007


State of the art, and the ego

I cleaned out my painting studio yesterday because someone was coming to look at a few paintings and, let's just say, things had piled up a wee bit (it was all starting to look rather baroque back there). All in all, the visit went very well and now I'm slated to have two small canvases in a large group show of Maine painters this summer. Next I need to frame them and detach myself from the tug of ownership, should someone decide to purchase them at the show. It's difficult, making one-of-a-kind objects, then letting them go. At least for me it is. I'm working on it. I try to compensate by producing a lot of objects and telling myself it's not right to keep them all for myself. I could sell or give away at least half. Right? Does that sound reasonable? Reasonable, ha - this from the person who has the colossal book problem.

The Reader's Encyclopedia letter-of-the-day is I. How fitting for a blog: me, me, me:

ignis fatuus. The "will o' the wisp" or "friar's lanthorn," a flame-like phosphorescence flitting over marshy ground caused by the spontaneous combustion of gases from decaying vegetable matter, and deluding people who attempt to follow it; hence, any delusive aim or object, or some Utopian scheme that is utterly impracticable. The name means "a foolish fire"; it is also called "Jack o' Lantern," "spunkie," "walking fire," and "Fair Maid of Ireland." (p.535)

Il Penseroso. A poem by John Milton, written in 1632. It celebrates the goddess of melancholy, contemplation, solitude, and study - the opposite of its companion poem, L'Allegro. The title was thought by the author to mean "The Meditative One," but is has been pointed out that the Italian is incorrect. (p.536) (Melancholy, contemplation, solitude, and study - she is my new muse, a goddess worth lighting candles to, surely!)

Inspired Idiot. Oliver Goldsmith was so called by Walpole. (p.541)

izzard. An old name of the letter "z." Still used in the phrase, from A to izzard, "from alpha to omega, from A to Z." The word has no satisfactory explanation. Possibly from "s hard" (which makes little sense) or from French "et z" - pronounced "ay zed" (which is not much better either). (p.548) (The previous comments in parenthesis are the esteemed editor's, not mine!)

Other entries of note, too long to reproduce here: Iliad, and iron (part of which reads if you have too many irons in the fire, some will burn. Words to heed...). For the sake of curiosity and comparison, I took a look in the third edition of The Reader's Encyclopedia (1987), and found out that besides the Iliad, none of the examples I list today appear in its pages. So, get both editions. Just sayin'.

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